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Archbishop Williams, to whofe care the viscount St. Albans, committed his orations and epiftles, expreffed his fenfe of that confidence repofed in him in thefe words:
"Your lordship doth moft worthily, therefore, in preferving thefe two pieces amongst the rest of those matchlefs monuments you fhall leave behind you: confidering, that, as one age hath not bred your experience, fo is it not fit it fhould be confined to one age, and not imparted to the times to come: for my part therein, I do embrace the honour with all thankfulness, and the truft impofed upon me,. with all religion and devotion."
The famous Sir Henry Wotton, on receiving from him the Novum Organum, wrote thus in return:
"Your lordship hath done a great and everlafting benefit to all the children of nature, and to nature herself in her utmoft extent of latitude, who never before had so noble nor fo true an interpreter, or (as I am readier to ftile your lordship) never fo inward a fecretary
of her cabinet."
But one of the nobleft, and perhaps the most noble, teftimony in honour of his great abilities, was the letter written to him, not long after his fall, by the univerfity of Oxford, on their receiving from him his book De Augmentis Scientiarum, the first paragraph only of which fhall be here tranfcribed.
Right honourable, and (what, in nobility, is almoft a miracle) moft learned vif
count! Your honour could have given nothing more agreeable, and the univerfity could have received nothing more acceptable, than the Sciences; and thofe fciences which fhe formerly fent forth poor, of low ftature, unpolifhed, he hath received elegant, tall, and, by the fupplies of your wit, by which alone they could have been advanced, most rich in dowry. She esteemeth it an extraordinary favour to have a return, with ufury made of that by a firanger (if fo near a relation may be called a ftranger) which the bestows as a patrimony upon her children; and the readily acknowledgeth, that, though the mufes are born in Oxford, they grow elsewhere; grown they are, and under your pen; who, like fome mighty Hercules in learning, have, by your own hand, further advanced thofe pillars in the learned world, which, by the rest of that world, were fuppofed immoveable."
Dr. Peter Heylin, who was thought, in his time, a great judge of men, things, and books, represents the viscount St. Albans as a man of a strong brain, and capable of the highest performances, more efpecially of framing a body of perfect philofophy.
Pity it was," faid he, he was not entertained with fome liberal falary, abstracted from all affairs both of court and judicature, and furnished with fufficiency both of means and helps for the going on in his defigns; which, had it been, he might have given us
fuch a body of natural philosophy, and made it fo fubfervient to the public good, that neither Aristotle, nor Theophraftus, amongst the ancients; nor Paracelfus, or the rest of our later chymifts, would have been confiderable.".
We shall add to these authorities but two more from the learned of our own nation; but they are fuch as might alone have fecured immortality to any author they had commended. The firit of thefe was Mr. Addison; who, in one of the Tatlers, in which he vindicates the Chriftian religion, by fhewing that the wifest and ablest men in all ages, have profeffed themfelves believers, speaks of our author thus:
"I fhall in this paper only inftance Sir Francis Bacon, a man who, for the greatnefs of his genius, and compafs of knowledge, did honour to his age and country, I could almost fay to human nature itself. He poffeffed, at once, all thofe extraordinary taTents which were divided amongst the greatest authors of antiquity: he had the found, diftinct, comprehenfive knowledge of Ariftotle ; with all the beautiful lights, graces, and embellishments, of Cicero: one does not know which to admire moft in his writings; the ftrength of reafon, force of ftile, or brightness of imagination. This author has remarked, in feveral parts of his works, that a thorough infight into philofophy makes a good believer;
and, that a fmattering in it, naturally produces fuch a race of despicable infidels, as the little profligate writers of the prefcht age, whom, I must confess, I have always accused to myself, not fo much for their want of faith as for their want of learning. I was infinitely pleafed to find, among the works of this extraordinary man, a prayer of his own compofing; which, for the elevation of thought, and greatnefs of expreffion, feems rather the devotion. of an angel than of a man. His principal fault feems to have been the excefs of that virtue which covers a multitude of faults: this be. trayed him to fo great an indulgence towards his fervants, who made fuch a corrupt use of it, that it ftripped him of all thofe riches and honours which a long series of merits had heaped upon him."
The fecond is that short character of his writings given us by the pen of the most noble John Sheffield, duke of Buckinghamfhire, who afferts, That all his works are, for expreffion, as well as thought, the glory of our nation and of all latter ages.
The laft authority we hall cite on this fubject, thall be Mr. Voltaire, who very jaftly tiles him the father of experimental philofophy; and enters into abundance of very judicious reflections on his discoveries and writings; owning, at the fame time, that what furprized him molt, was, to find the doctrine of attraction, which is looked upon as the
foundation of another philofophy, exprefly fet down in lord Bacon's, in words not to be controverted or mistaken.
We fhall not take upon us to decide how far this may be just or not; but leave it to the fearch of the learned and ingenious reader. Only give us leave to fay, We have always fufpected that the Novum Organum hath been fo little commended by the moderns for two reafons: first, that it requires a deep head and a strong attention to become fully master of it, and fo has been thoroughly understood by few: fecondly, that thofe few who have fully penetrated it, ufed it to raise ftructures of their own, and not to finish Bacon's palace of wifdom.
It was peculiar to this great man to have nothing narrow and selfish in his compofition; he gave away, without concern, whatever he poffeffed; and, believing other men of the fame mould, he received with as little confideration nay, even as to fame, he had the like notion; he was defirous to enjoy it, but in the fame way; not from his knowledge, but from his free and liberal communication of that knowledge: fo that it may be truly, and without flattery, faid, his worst qualities were the exceffes of the moft exalted virtues.
His glory cannot be blafted by the flashes of envy; his failings hurt only his contemporaries, and were expiated by his fufferings; but his virtue and knowledge, and, above